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Núria GüellValor #1, 2012
Multiple | Digital print
51 x 23 x 1.5 cm 
Edition: 30 copies
1st edition
Frame of beech wood and glass; Conqueror 240 gsm and Novamat 300 gsm paper
Arts Coming. Contemporary art editions


Güell’s work is distinguished by her need to generate new alternatives to situations of social conflict in which the abuse of the structures of political and economic power is apparent. In this way she seeks not only to make visible the issue engaged with but also to contribute to a change in the way we relate to one another and add to the sum of decent options open to people from a defence of cultural, political and economic autonomy.

Value #1 (2012) is a milestone work, key to understanding Güell’s approach to artistic creation, in that it establishes a fundamental axiom in confronting life on the basis of our consciousness of the moment as a way of taking responsibility for the present. Güell regards creation not as an act of aseptic surgery but as a form of social commitment, and this explains her need of actions that require her own personal involvement to be carried out. In this respect the fact of tattooing the phrase El día de mañana (‘the day of tomorrow’) on the sole of her right foot and documenting with a scanner its wearing away as a result of walking on it day after day until in the end only the words día de (‘day of’) are still legible is a clear statement of her personal philosophy of life.

It is worth drawing attention to the creative impulse of this piece: on one hand the need to break free of inherited and culturally transmitted pressure (represented here by the artist’s grandmother) to ‘make sacrifices in order to have and to be something tomorrow’ and on the other hand the realization of this work in parallel with the cancer of her partner’s mother, who never had a chance to break with conventions disguised as social ties. These two processes of erosion taking place in unison — that of the tattoo by friction and that of death as a natural process — make the work a statement of intent, a symbolic act charged with meaning, a necessary move to make way for the rejection and the wiping away of prejudices. ‘A plea not to fall into the trap of replacing freedom with fictitious security, which sets us to working against ourselves and strips us off responsibility for the facts of our existence, a struggle against tolerating the intolerable, since the more we tolerate the more we suffer the pressure exercised on us. A plea to take responsibility for the present, for the day of …, which is the only thing that can engender deviations capable of producing encounters.’ [Güell, 2015]

Güell has defined the methodology that structures her work as LEGAL APPLICATION / DISPLACED MORAL, the process by which she unpacks a legal or moral principle and applies it in the opposite direction, inverting the power relations and managing with this small twist to trigger a questioning of established convention. In some cases she gives this process a more activist nature, by generating resources with which to modify reality, while in others she opts for a more reflective approach. In Value #1 she provides a fundamental and liberating statement on which to construct life and work.

Note: Related to this piece, there is a video off the tattooing.

Isidro López-Aparicio Pérez


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Rafel G. Bianchi 

No preguntis a l’ignorant (Don’t Ask the Ignorant), 2012

Multiple | Object | Polyurethane resin and acrylic paint. Arts Coming, Barcelona
17 x 7.5 x 4.5 cm.

 

The object, the gesture, the gaze. The imperative, the red, the brown. The doubt, the negation, the placing in suspension. No preguntis a l’ignorant (Don’t Ask The Ignorant) is a piece that is easily inserted into a trajectory — that of Rafel G. Bianchi — that is based on the centrality of the subject, humour (or irony) and the suggestion of the absurd.

No preguntis a l’ignorant (2005) started out as a sculpture in fibreglass, a reproduction of Rafel G. Bianchi’s own person at 1:1 scale. This is a male figure; slim, with no hair on the head, with bushy eyebrows and red ears. Black trousers and a brown jacket, by way of a uniform seeking the most minimal apperception. His gesture, with shoulders raised, elbows tucke3d in and forearms outstretched, hands open with palms outward, embodies a ‘What are you telling me?’ or a ‘What do I know?’.

Sarcasm invades the expression of a face dominated by curved eyebrows and an almost Etruscan half smile that evokes the faces of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. A sarcasm that not only contains but involves. ‘Don’t ask the ignorant’ is an order: The contemporary artist, despite being concerned with questions, does not give answers. Like the colour of ears that blush without permission, the artist enters the realm of reflection on the truth with no obligation to give valid results.

With his gesture Rafel G. Bianchi moves his figure, that of the artist, towards assimilation with the buffoon or the clown, the antihero who, with no need of success, also achieves centrality in the attention of the powerful by way of humour. And by way of a personality that is free and independent, in being marginal and autarkic.

This is not, moreover, the first time that Bianchi has used himself as an explosive subject. He did so in Paper Dolls, in which we see a caricature of the artist running, or in An Englishman, A Frenchman and A Spaniard, in which Bianchi is a comic figure, perplexed beside a swing that the artist has redesigned all wrong. We also see him in The 8 Differences (in fact there are none) in La Vanguardia, photographed with two characters wearing Santa Claus caps,* or more recently in At x Metres from the Objective (2006-2014).

The version of No preguntis a l’ignorant produced by ArtsComing is a that reproduction of the original sculpture in polyurethane resin and acrylic paint on a much smaller scale (17 x 7.5 x 4.5 cm). It is also a multiple object, and as such escapes the uniqueness traditionally associated with the work of art, placing in tension the structure of the market and questioning its own distribution and elitism through its unlimited distribution.

In this way, concept and object come together in a piece that is completed by its own distribution, suspending the role and function of the contemporary artist, their context, their work, their value; exercising an incisive critique of an entire system through a simple gesture charged with cynicism, quasi-Machiavellian, but intelligently presented as naive and jokey.

Marina Vives Cabré

* MARROQUÍ, Javier. ‘¿De qué ríe l’ignorant?’, in No Preguntis a l’ignorant (Cru 025). Barcelona: Cru, 2008.


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Ignasi Aballí

Llistat (Diners II) (List (Money II)), 2003

Photograph | Digital print on photographic paper
150 x 105 cm
IA.0027-

One of the main lines of work in Ignasi Aballí’s artistic practice has to do with time, with rhythm, with the consumption of images and information to which we are subjected. At times the artist as subject virtually disappears, leaving the accumulation of dust or the corrosive action of the sun on different materials bestow form on the work. At other times he compulsively collects, gathers together and inventories, piling up materials and information from various sources and configuring a gigantic archive. But, almost always, time dilates in the processes, proffering a patient attention that is the antithesis of the haste habitual in contemporary society.

This is the case with the listings, a series of works that Aballí has been making since 1997, when he began cutting out words and numbers from the newspapers he leafs through and reads every day. Starting from a ritual act, which many of us engage in daily when we read the papers, and occupying it as a personal working space, the listings follow different lines of development. On the one hand, in being archived and grouped on the basis of certain common characteristics they offer a different reading, a mental image and a new meaning. On the other, in relocating the information, detaching it from its original context and generating a new possibility of interpreting it, a movement of performative translation is generated.

Numbers and letters; these basic units of information are the raw material of the listings. The words tend to appear in relation to numbers that indicate quantities of things: people, deaths, money, the missing, years, immigrants, drugs… what happens when these enumerations are decontextualized and framed with other similar tallies, grouping them together? If we think of their source — the daily papers — we can think of them as little snippets of reality, tiny sections of social problems and issues ordered by subject, and in so doing generate a new scenario of understanding. Going a little further, if we once again group these lists by topic or interest, we can generate various kinds of genealogy. For example, the three pieces of the Cal Cego collection, which fall within the sphere of creation: artists, works and film; could we make this the basis for an analysis of how the creative field is perceived within a certain time frame?

Engaging with the listings raises questions about the way we assimilate the information, the speed at which this appears and disappears, the different possibilities of reading or even how certain topics are covered in the mass media. What is the relationship between language, numbers, the consumption of images and information, and reality? How is that reality transformed into numbers and letters? Trying to figure out issues like this can help us understand the world around us and, above all, how this world is codified, communicated and assimilated.

Juan Canela


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Ignasi Aballí

Paper Moneda (Paper Currency), 2008

Painting | 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 euros and mixtured of paper currency
50 x 50 cm (x8)
IA.0025-
The banknotes are etchings, representations. They do not, of course, stake any artistic claims, but they do contain images. Austrian artist Robert Kalina drew the doors and windows on the back and the bridges on the front of the €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 banknotes. With the creation of this artwork, Ignasi Aballí has performed an iconoclastic operation that would constitute a crime in some countries and generates a sense of unease elsewhere. Even though he did not destroy them himself, the shredded banknotes were supplied by the Bank of Spain. The only thing left of the image is colour, “tarnished” due to the material and through use, and the iron cases containing the shreddings become monochromes of minimalist extraction, in appearance at least. This series picks up on an earlier artwork going by the same title, created in 1992, with the main difference being that in the 16-year gap the Peseta has been replaced by the Euro (which, by the way, involved the destruction of an incredible amount of paper money). In this regard, it is worth highlighting the fact that one of the most outstanding features of Aballí’s work is coherence. Almost all of his projects are inter-related, and perhaps a self-referential intention can be deduced from his oeuvre. And this multiple painting-sculpture alludes to several of the artist’s idiosyncratic plastic and conceptual themes. The first and most obvious one is the chromatic theme. Cal Cego’s own collection includes a number of examples of coloured letters that Aballí has created with a dual visual message: colour on the one hand, and the language of his descriptions or variations on the other. Another recurring theme is the practice of making things hard to see; he has placed different types of “screens” on several of his artworks and he has made images disappear, causing a reality/artwork recognition dilemma. Shaping artworks through the accumulation of one type of material is another of the strategies that resurfaces here, along the lines of the paradigmatic dust piles “Pols” (“Dust”) or the remains of “Matèria tèxtil” (“Fabric”), also at Cal Cego, which also produce visual surfaces that are both simple and very complex. The factor of time (the time needed to produce or gather the raw materials for certain artworks), though not quite as evident, can be found in the period when the banknotes were in circulation and in the signs of them being handled, all of which is also shredded and incorporated into his work. Finally, moving on from process to lines of thought, “Paper Money” is related to a set of artworks called “Llistat (diners)” (“List (money)”), in which denominations and currencies follow on from each other like a consumer society chant in another type of accumulative process. Along with these lists, “Paper Money” was exhibited at the headquarters of the Bank of Spain in Madrid (2009) to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the Euro in Spain.

Elena Vozmediano 


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